Apr 15

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Is it laziness on our part that we take a passage (verse) out of its context; or is it an honest mistake? Without being able to read the mind of another, I am unable to answer, but we sure have reason to question; why do preachers and others keep on taking the same verse out of its true context? Here we turn our attention once more to “Hermeneutics 101.” In the case before us, all one must do is read the context and ask the question: “What is the subject in which this verse appears?” Context is the first responsibility of the reader, teacher, or writer; if he is to quote another!
With this before us, here is a good time to call upon the words of James: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). First, we must understand the word “masters,” it come from the Greek word “didaskalos” and means: “1) a teacher; 2) in the NT one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man, 1a) one who is fitted to teach, or thinks himself so.” Second, it is the responsibility of the one who is to be a “teacher,” to study and understand the truth being taught in any verse or passage he is to teach on! Therefore, having studied and prepared to teach, in this case by writing, I must understand that James is warning everyone who would be a teacher/ preacher: “be not many masters;” but James is not writing about “masters” as it relates to “master” and “servant!” No, he is writing about one who would be a “teacher!” Third, the one who would be a “teacher” must understand James’ words: “we shall receive the greater condemnation!” Therefore, it behooves us to give all diligence to make sure we understand every verse in the context it appears and never be guilty of taking a “verse out of context!”
With the above firmly in mind, to use an old expression, “I take pen in hand to write!” In modern terms. “My fingers are upon the keyboard and I am prepared to write!” While understanding James’ warning that I: “shall receive the greater condemnation;” should I willfully be too lazy to study, so irresponsible that I have no fear to teach what James was not teaching, and what any verse I may use while taking it out of the context which the speaker or writer put the words in! Friends, I “stand” in fear, should I be too lazy or so irresponsible, that I may teach what Jesus or any other inspired writer wrote out of its context!
How many times have you heard or read Jesus’ words: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20)? How many times have you heard or read where these words are used and applied to worship? Have you read the context? If so, how did you determine that it is a context of worship? Jesus is not speaking of worship! Now, read the following with care! If Jesus was speaking about worship, then, he has implied that one person cannot, yes, one person cannot worship God “in spirit and in truth” by himself! Suppose you are the only Christian is a place and it is the “first day of the week?” Here we need to understand the implication of a statement has the same authority as the statement its self! For it is the implication of the speaker or writer! Therefore, if Jesus was speaking of worship, then, he implied that one person cannot worship by himself! How many times have you prayed or sung a song of spiritual truth, being alone? Was it worship?
The context in which the words, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;” is identified by Jesus in these words: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee” (verse 15). The two or three witnesses are required because the truth of the charge is to be proven! Here is what Jesus said in identifying the context: “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (verse 16). When the truth of the charge is established, by two or three witnesses, then, Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (verse 20). Let it be understood, that Jesus is never with false witnesses!
It should be easy to determine, just by reading Jesus’ words, that he is not speaking of worship! So, why do teachers/preachers/writers, keep on applying Jesus’ words to worship? Is it that they are too lazy to study the context and are just “parroting” what they have heard; that they do not care what the context is teaching; or is it that they just refuse to accept the context in which Jesus spoke? Shame on anyone who falls within any of these!

Frank R. Williams

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